Responding to criticism that the START follow-on treaty, or New START, should wait until the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is completed early next year, the Pentagon announced in August that the
Administration critics have argued that President Barack Obama should not have committed the
The Department of Defense disputed that point. “[The] NPR and [START] Follow-on treaty negotiations are closely coordinated to ensure that the U.S. negotiating positions are fully consistent with ongoing NPR analysis concerning nuclear policy, strategy and force structure,” according to an Aug. 6 Pentagon fact sheet on the NPR process. “The NPR made it an early priority to accomplish the analysis necessary to support the START Follow-on treaty negotiations.”
Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher made similar comments at a U.S. Strategic Command conference in July. “While the NPR’s work is still going on, it will inform the positions we take as we negotiate the New START…with
The NPR covers
The NPR will recommend actions that are consistent with Obama’s April 5 speech in
Although the review will look at ways to reduce the “role and number” of nuclear weapons, there is no “pre-determined” level of arms reductions in the NPR, and “the complete elimination of nuclear weapons is not anticipated in the timeframe of this review,” the Pentagon said. However, the NPR is examining how to continue to provide extended deterrence to
The NPR is also looking at less-rosy scenarios, including the possibility that New START does not enter into force and that the “reset of the U.S.-Russian relationship does not continue,” the Pentagon said.
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The NPR was mandated by Congress; previous reviews were conducted in 1994 and 2001. The results are scheduled to be submitted to Congress in February 2010 and will include an unclassified version. The report will be submitted along with the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, except for the European defense section, which has been accelerated, and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.
The NPR is being led by the Pentagon, in cooperation with the Departments of State and Energy. Primary Pentagon responsibility lies with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
Michael Nacht, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, supervises the day-to-day operations of the NPR and reports to Flournoy and James Miller, principal deputy undersecretary for policy.
Two NPR co-directors run the day-to-day operations: Brad Roberts, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and ballistic missile defense policy, and Rear Adm. Philip Davidson, deputy director for strategy and policy on the JCS.
There are four working groups, consisting of “interagency stakeholders,” including policy and strategy; capabilities, force structure, and programs; nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure; and international dimensions.
As part of the process, the Defense Department says it is reaching out for input from experts that participated in previous reviews,